Complete focus on the sounds of the language
Having never contemplated learning a language by solely focussing on its elemental sounds before, I was very interested to test out a couple of the Mimic Method languages that Idahosa offers.
As aforementioned, the Mimic Method isn’t really a language course per se but is more a method of teaching you how to recognise the sounds of the language that you are learning and to help you replicate and reproduce them.
The idea is that when you are a child you mimic what you hear and that that is how you learn a language. As such you don’t actually really learn any words in your target language over the course, just the sounds.
Rather than teaching you through reading or writing, Idahosa thinks that learning by ear is a lot better and that you’ll learn quicker, be able to understand more and will also come out of it with a better accent.
This course will, therefore, teach you the sounds of the language but nothing at all about any grammar or vocabulary and you won’t learn how to speak, read or write by using it.
I say speak because you learn how to understand, recognise and mimic sounds but you don’t ever use them in a sentence for example.
I thought it was an interesting take on language learning but I, unfortunately, didn’t enjoy the course very much as it was very technical and there was a lot of emphasis placed on the terminology of how we pronounce things the way we do.
I do however think it could be a useful resource for both beginners and advanced learners who are looking to improve their understanding and pronunciation of a language.
It’s a very technical course
Each course follows roughly the same structure and indeed a lot of the material such as the homework, units and explanation videos are pretty similar across the different languages.
As the courses are only designed to take you two to four weeks, there is not all that much material on offer although you do of course cover all of the different sounds present in the languages.
With the variations between the different languages, some of the courses such as the French one have five units for you to work through while others like the Italian one only have three.
All of the courses start off with an introduction to the Mimic Method where Idahosa explains the concept behind it and outlines the objectives of the course.
Essentially the main goal of his master classes is for you to ‘master the hearing and pronunciation of each elemental sound in your target language’.
He also gives you tips on how to learn and how not to learn a language as well as how to train your hearing and pronunciation.
For the French and Brazilian Portuguese courses, a lecture video is followed by a PDF homework for you to complete. Idahosa will then go over it in a video during the next lesson and explain it.
There are also audio drills for you to work through and a supplementary video is often provided. The Italian course, in contrast, has no homework and there are only a few audio drills that pop up from time to time over the three units.
As you can see the content varies depending on the language you are learning.
As well as the different units, there is also a drills page where you can find each sound in the language you are learning. If you click on the different sounds, you can see how they are pronounced and there is a short drill which helps show you the different way it may be used in the language.
Unlike any other language learning resource I know of, the Mimic Method focuses solely on sounds and their pronunciation whereas other courses only mention these aspects of the language in passing.
I found it to be quite technical and there was a lot of emphasis placed on the terminology that is used in relation to pronunciation.
After you have access to your master class, it is very easy to get started as the dashboard is very clearly laid out. There are no settings and preferences to choose from and so you can get started right away.
Click on the arrow that says ‘start here’ and you’ll hear Idahosa tell you that the course will help you to learn how to hear, see and feel the elemental sounds of the language that you are learning.
With all of the courses, you then start off with the ‘Course Introduction’ unit.
These seem to be identical across the languages depending on when Idahosa created each particular course. For example, both the French and Brazilian Portuguese courses are identical in this respect while the Italian and Japanese courses are also the same but with different videos.
The videos in the French and Brazilian Portuguese courses give you an overview of the course and what to expect. In the video called ‘Five Language Learning Life Lessons’, Idahosa goes over lessons that he has learnt in life that have helped him to learn languages and this will help you to understand why the course is structured in the way that it is.
Having watched this, you then watch the ‘Course Objectives’ video which highlights what the aim of the Mimic Method is.
This is to learn how to conceptualise, hear and pronounce each of the elemental sounds. In this video, he also looks at what it means to pronounce words, what the concept behind the course is and how sounds are actually made.
Pay close attention as a lot of what he says will come up in the first homework!
Having watched the two videos it’s now time for you to tackle the homework sheet for the first unit and as you can see below, quite a lot of philosophical and technical material is covered in the course.
There are more fun parts to the homework though when you have to come up with your own rhymes. Until this point however not one word in the language you are learning has featured.
At this point, you can head over to the ‘Drills Index’ part of the course. Here you will find all of the sounds that make up the language you’re studying. You can then click on each one of them and hear how they are pronounced and hear example words for them. This page also has access to a couple of other resources which we’ll explore a bit later.
As aforementioned, the introduction unit of the Japanese and Italian courses vary slightly although they largely aim to impart the same information. Instead of the videos and homework sheets mentioned above, there are four videos which introduce you to the course, teach you how not to learn a language, teach you how to learn by ear and how to train your hearing and pronunciation skills.
As you can see, quite a lot of technical content is covered and Idahosa really explains how you create each and every sound of the language you are trying to learn. Diagrams will be used to explain how sounds are made and the International Phonetic Alphabet is often used throughout the courses.
Once you’ve completed the homework for the first unit, it’s time to head on to the next lesson. As the units all build on each other, you should follow it in sequence to get the most out of the Mimic Method.
Having completed the first unit, Idahosa goes over the homework task in the next lecture video, working his way through and answering the questions.
For French and Brazilian Portuguese he then takes you through the Oral Vowels looking at tongue position, lip roundedness and nasality. This lecture is accompanied by lots of slides of the tongue’s position when you’re speaking and the vowel chart is meant to show where your tongue is (or should be) when you’re saying certain words and pronouncing certain sounds.
The homework for unit two then again looks at some of the philosophical and technical aspects of the course material that he covers in the video lectures. As you can see, absolutely everything is about pronunciation and the elemental sounds that make up a language.
The homework is again identical for the Brazilian Portuguese and French courses and while this doesn’t matter much, the fact that Idahosa encourages doing more than one of his courses at the same time means that language learners would soon become bored with the same material.
In fact, many of the videos across the languages are the same with only the essential ones on the elemental sounds actually differing at all.
Indeed the last video in lecture five entitled ‘From Sounds to Syllables’ is again identical and I thought he could have changed it up a bit and made it more specific to each language.
This is because the song he references is in French and it seems a bit strange to me that the video for the Brazilian Portuguese also refers to it and focuses on it for about ten minutes.
Despite this, I did think that the mapping of the song’s elemental sounds was a clever way to highlight his point that people should learn the sounds of a language before learning reading and writing.
As you can see the sounds that are spoken are very different from how a beginner learner may read the text in the photo.
Idahosa also shows you how you too can download the software, download songs and play them slower and break them down so you can slowly begin to recognise the vowels and consonants in words and sentences.
Over time this will help you to better hear, understand and conceptualise the language before reproducing it yourself.
While I think the courses overlap too much to make it worthwhile following two or three at the same time, Idahosa does do a great job of explaining each sound, how you can conceptualise it and reproduce and say it.
The diagrams and explanations are very clear across the languages and some of the drills and exercises are quite useful. It doesn’t amount to very much material, however.
In addition to the units and lectures, on the drills page of any of the languages, you will find all of the elemental sounds and each of them will be accompanied by some drills for you to use to master its pronunciation.
This page also has an elemental sounds checklist for you to tick off when you have mastered them (a seemingly almost useless resource), a link for how you can download a flash deck program and a list of 500 of the most frequently used words in the language you are learning.
The latter is very useful and it has links to how the word is pronounced and miraculously there are also translations of the words there too!
Having said that, I do think there could be more exercises for you to practice making the sounds in your target language and too much of the homework for me focus on the philosophical and technical aspects.
This meant that you learnt the elemental sounds but didn’t get to produce them very often or in very many different formats and for a course that focuses solely on pronunciation; I thought this was a mistake. Throughout the courses, you also don’t get to learn how to string sounds together in words or sentences.
While many other courses largely neglect pronunciation or assume that you’ll pick it up through learning the language, the Mimic Method’s sole focus is to help you to conceptualise the elemental sounds, train your ear to hear them and then train your mouth to reproduce them.
For a course so limited in scope, I expected there to be a lot more material that would help you actually do this and while Idahosa gives us the tools, there were no listening exercises to train our ear.
Apart from explaining the different sounds and how we can recognise and reproduce them, there is not a lot of material there and, for such an expensive course; I am sure you can find cheaper if not free options online.
The Italian course, for example, is pretty much just some explanations of the vowels and consonants of the language and then that’s about it. Although these explanations are very well done, there could be so much more material for learners to benefit from.
Idahosa says that ‘progress occurs when you use the language by speaking the sounds rather than learning about the language by reading and writing’ and while I agree with this to a certain extent, only sounds were explored on the course and no words or sentences were really attempted.
Although I am glad I tried it out as it’s a new form of quasi-language learning to me, I did feel a bit disappointed in the content.
The amount of terminology relating to pronunciation and the anatomy of the mouth bored me although I am sure some language learners would appreciate the in-depth look at how words are shaped and formed. I thought that some of the homework was quite interesting to do although they were mostly quite heavy and not very fun.
At the end of the day, this is a very specific course that some people will really enjoy while others like myself may not be so keen. You will definitely learn the elemental sounds of your target language but that is about it.
As such you will definitely have to complement your learning with another resource or two and, for $197, I’m not sure that the Mimic Method is worth it. You’d probably be better off looking online for some other free or cheaper resources.
Plans and Prices
Lifetime access to a course costs an eye-watering $394 though for some reason when I went to pay the website knocked off almost half the price which makes it a still not inconsiderable $197. I think $197 is the standard price.
If after purchasing the course you decide that the teaching method doesn’t suit you then you have a 60 days money back guarantee.
Included in the course are over six hours of video content, a drills exercise index, a 500 frequent words list with accompanying audios of how they are pronounced, an audio word list of every phoneme of your target language and PDF copies of all of the lecture slide and homework assignments.
In general, the course should take around two to four weeks depending on how fast you go through the content. All of the material is available for offline download.
To get an idea of whether the teaching method suits your preferred way of learning languages, you can sign up on the website and get a free ‘Sound Discovery Guide’. Idahosa also has some free things for you to check out on the Mimic Method’s facebook page and YouTube channel.
While this course would definitely be worth using if it were free or much cheaper, the fact is that it is quite expensive for what is actually included. As you would have to use the Mimic Method in conjunction with at least another couple of resources, I wouldn’t recommend paying for it.
You could save quite a bit of money by looking online for cheaper or free options that teach you the pronunciation of your target language although they will not be as thorough and there will almost certainly be less technical explanations.
Reviews online about the Mimic Method generally seem quite positive and I have seen numerous people say that Idahosa is very communicative and helps out a lot with his online learners.
Although I am disappointed with the extent and range of the content that the Mimic Method has on each language, Idahosa does brilliantly explain each and every elemental sound in the languages he looks at.
While it is very technical and even philosophical at times, you can mostly always produce the sound that he has explained.
Unfortunately for a course that is so limited in scope, there is not nearly enough material to justify the expensive price. I wish there had been more exercises for students to develop their ear for each language and afterward their pronunciation of sounds, words and sentences.
It was quite dry in a lot of places which made it a bit of a slog to follow.
While some people will undoubtedly really enjoy the focus on pronunciation and will really benefit from it, I feel that it is quite a specific and technical course that will put many others off it.
All in all, there must be cheaper options out there for language learners to master pronunciation through. While the focus on the technical side might not be as in-depth, the grammar, vocabulary, speaking, writing, reading and cultural content will almost certainly make up for it!